MINEHEAD Grammar School was clearly doing something right when it came to PE lessons in the 1950s, as two girls went on from there to play hockey for England - and a third pupil played tennis at Wimbledon!

The grammar school, which is now called Minehead Middle School, was attended by Nan Morgan and Elizabeth Jennings, who both represented England at Wembley having been in the same form at school.

The former - now Nan Williams - played at centre-half and right-half, and was in the England women’s team for four matches at Wembley Stadium.

In 1961 she helped England defeat Ireland 4-2 in front of a crowd of 55,000, and that was followed by matches in 1963 (a 1-0 defeat to Wales, watched by 50,000), 1964 (a 3-2 win over Scotland, with a crowd of 60,000) and 1966 (a 2-1 victory against West Germany, in front of 56,000).

Jennings, whose married name is Boobier, played twice - in 1969 (a 2-1 win against Wales, watched by 65,000) and 1970 (a 1-1 draw with an Australian touring team, seen by 45,000).

A third Minehead Grammar School pupil, Mervyn May, was a quarter-finalist at Junior Wimbledon!

Williams, who lives in Taunton now, has been a driving force in the Hockey Museum’s recognition of the first match which the All-England Women’s Hockey Association organised at Wembley in March 1951 - so 70 years ago this month.

That match in 1951 was the first time that any women’s game had been played at the stadium, and fixtures continued to be played there, once a year, up to 1991.

The following account, from the Minehead Grammar School magazine in December 1957, tells the tale of the school visit to London, to attend the hockey international between England and Ireland that year.

“At 9 o’clock, Saturday, March 9, between 50 and 60 girls collected on Minehead railway station under the care of Miss Girling, Miss Russell, Miss Rapson and Miss Chapman.

“The morning was sunny and bright, and a very happy party left Minehead on the 9.5 train.

“We arrived at Paddington station, after a comfortable journey, at 1.30pm.

“We immediately caught another train out to Wembley, where we were going to see an international hockey match between England and Ireland.

“The stadium was crowded - mainly with schoolchildren.

“The very exciting match was enjoyed by all; it resulted in a win for England, 2-0.

“The teams looked wonderful - England in red and white, and Ireland in green and white.

“The Irish team was introduced by Irish pipers in full national dress, and the English team was introduced by the Band of the Royal Marines, also in full uniform.

“England’s captain was Elizabeth Delforce, of Kent, who was captained England for five successive years.

“The Irish captain was Sheila Murnaghan, of Ulster.

“The match itself was very exciting, and after 13 minutes of the first half Monica Beattie (centre forward) scored the first English goal.

“Fifty-three minutes later Cynthia Vincent (left inner) made the score a 2-0 victory for England, and so to record their seventh victory in seven appearances since last being beaten.

“However, according to the critics the star-light for brilliant passing, tackling and rhythmic work goes to the English defence.

“It was also thought that Ireland had earned a draw with their lively attacking, spear-headed by Thelma Hopkins, who missed the goal only by inches.

“Sir Stanley Rous, secretary of the Football Association, was among the colourful 48,000 spectators.

“After the match the party separated into three groups and each went to different hotels to have dinner and change before going to a show.

“The junior party went to Wembley to see a pantomime on ice, the middle group went to see ‘The Bride and the Bachelor’ and the seniors went to see ‘Dry Rot’ at the Whitehall Theatre.

“We enjoyed the show very much and returned home very tired but happy.

“We travelled on the Underground trains to and from our hotel; for many of us travelling in this way was a new and exciting experience.

“We were awakened next morning by the sound of a bell - it was breakfast time and many of us were still asleep.

“We hurriedly dressed and rushed down to the dining-room, in case any hungry person ate our breakfast as well as her own.

“The next item was to pack our cases because we had to be out of the hotel by 10am.

“Alas - we were not very tidy packers, and we had to sit on each other’s cases to get them shut.

“We took our cases to the station luggage office and left them there until it was time to leave for home.

“We went to a service in Westminster Abbey, and we sat in the part of the Abbey where Queen Elizabeth II sat during her Coronation.

“After the service we were allowed to go sight-seeing, and we saw the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the Horse Guards.

“We met Miss Russell by the Houses of Parliament and we went down Birdcage Walk, and eventually arrived at Paddington, where we had lunch.

“In the afternoon the juniors visited Madame Tussaud’s, and the rest of us went to Kensington and visited the Natural History and Science Museums, where we had great fun pressing buttons and seeing experimental work.

“We returned once again to Paddington, where we met the others, collected our luggage and boarded the train for Taunton.

“We arrived at Taunton at 7.30pm, where a special bus was waiting to take us back to Minehead.

“We reached Minehead a very happy party, and also very grateful to the members of the staff who had given us a very pleasant and enjoyable week-end.”

The Hockey Museum, which is based in Woking, aims to give ‘hockey’s history a future’, as the game looks to rebound after the Covid-19 pandemic. For more information, visit hockeymuseum.net.